Collision Course: The Incompatibility of India’s Coal and Renewable Strategies
by Christine Shearer, CoalSwarm, July 2016
From 2007 to 2015, the average coal plant utilization rate in India fell from 79 percent to 64 percent. Despite this, a sufficient number of coal plants are under construction and moving through the pre-construction pipeline to more than double India’s current coal power capacity.
This report finds that India’s operating and under construction coal plants alone are enough to exceed the country’s electricity demand through to 2022. Yet the Indian government simultaneously has proposed installing nearly 15 times the amount of solar power and more than doubling its installed wind power by the same year. India’s coal proposals therefore threaten to derail India’s renewable ambitions.
Once built, renewable energy is cheaper to operate than coal, since it requires no fuel inputs. In the face of oversupply, this would lead to further declining utilization rates and more unused plants for coal, and a cleaner and cheaper energy future for India, as well as alignment with Paris accords. However, once a coal plant is built there will be pressure for the plant to be used to recoup development costs, potentially leading to the preferential use of coal over renewable energy. This proves to undermine efforts to shift India’s clean energy efforts.